Vatican City – Pope Francis on Wednesday very explicitly defended the right of gay couples, “children of God”, to live in a “civil union” that protects them legally.
“Homosexual people have the right to be with their family. They are children of God, they have the right to a family“, declared the sovereign pontiff of Argentina, in a documentary presented Wednesday at the Festival of the cinema of Rome.
“What is needed is a civil union law, they have the right to be legally covered. I defended this“, he underlined in this documentary entitled”Francesco“and directed by Evgeny Afineevsky.
According to his biographer Austen Ivereigh, Jorge Bergoglio, the future pope, had defended the merits of this legal protection when he was still archbishop of Buenos Aires, in the context of a heated debate in 2010 in his country on the legalization of marriages gays.
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Since his election as pope, Francis had already mentioned on several occasions, without rejecting it, the notion of civil unions for people of the same sex.
In the two-hour documentary unveiled Wednesday, which retraces the highlights of his first seven years of pontificate and uses undated interviews with the pope, Francis however pleads with unprecedented precision and greater freedom of tone in favor of this type of ‘civil unions.
His statements in Spanish follow in the film the testimony of a Catholic homosexual, Andrea Rubera, father of three, who asked him in a letter whether they should attend his church.
The Pope then called him on the phone to advise him to be transparent about his choice of life in his parish and to bring his children there.
The Sovereign Pontiff has shown openness to homosexuals, regularly asserting that they should be greeted with respect in Catholic parishes and advising parents not to reject them.
-opposed to “wedding” gay-
“If a person is gay and willingly seeks the Lord, who am I to judge them?“, said the Pope on the plane bringing him back from his first trip to Brazil in July 2013.
This little sentence marked the pontificate of Francis, who received many homosexuals in private audience, provoking the ire of the most conservative branch of the Church.
However, he remains firmly opposed to their “wedding“, in line with the dogma of the Church.
“Let’s say it as it is: marriage is a man and a woman. That is the precise term. Let’s call same sex union + civil union +“, Pope Francis said in a book of interviews carried out by the French sociologist Dominique Wolton, published in 2017.
The pope’s plea, however, highlights a very clear advance compared to an official document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the keeper of dogma at the Vatican) of 2003, which opposed “legal recognition of homosexual unions“, noted Wednesday many observers of the Vatican.
This charge was signed at the time by its leader, German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, future Pope Benedict XVI. “To legally recognize homosexual unions or to equate them with marriage, would mean not only approving deviant behavior, and consequently making it a model in today’s society, but also masking fundamental values which belong to the common heritage of humanity.“, he wrote in conclusion.
In 2014, Bishop Bruno Forte, who was then secretary general of an important synod (assembly of bishops) on the family, pleaded for legal recognition of gay couples, on condition of using a “terminology“distinct from that of heterosexual unions.
“It is clear to me that human beings involved in different experiences have rights that must be protected“, he said at the time, referring to”respect for the dignity of peopleThis idea, dear in particular to the progressive branch of the German episcopate, had not however been retained as a final proposal of the bishops.